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Polson School District hires new leader

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The Polson School Board has selected veteran administrator and celebrated football coach Michael Cutler, of Philipsburg, to lead the district beginning next year. The board unanimously voted for the candidate at last Monday’s school board meeting. 

The board held sessions Feb. 8-9 to interview five candidates for the job. 

Board Vice Chair Tim McGinnis, who was a member of both the search and evaluation committees, said he was impressed with Cutler’s extensive experience. “His answers to the board’s questions were clear, concise and showed a thorough knowledge of the issues that a district faces,” he said. 

“I believe Mr. Cutler’s core values align with those of the district’s and look forward to working with him,” he added.

The board hired curriculum director Tom DiGiallonardo as interim superintendent last July after Superintendent Rex Weltz resigned to accept an administrative position with Helena Public Schools. DiGiallonardo did not apply for the position as superintendent and acknowledged that he’s looking forward to stepping “out of the hot seat.” 

Cutler spent 17 years as superintendent of schools in his hometown of Philipsburg before resigning in 2019 to start his consulting business. With his storied career as a high school and college football player, Cutler took on the job of athletic director, overseeing the formation of the Flint Creek Titans athletic coop with Drummond. He shared coaching duties from 2014-’16 and was head coach from 2017-’20, when the Titans claimed three state titles for 8-man football.

Cutler began his teaching and coaching career in Denton and served as high school principal in Townsend. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physical health and human performance from UM Western in Dillon and a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Montana in Missoula. He and his wife, Jody, have two children, Sydney and Kade.

Other finalists for the post included:  

• Dr. Erika Allen is superintendent and 7th and 8th grade principal of the Dutton-Brady School District. She previously served as the elementary principal in Shelby and as a music teacher in Fairfield. Allen holds a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s and doctorate in educational leadership, all from the University of Montana.

• Scott Kinney is now superintendent of schools in Superior after serving as elementary principal and net administrator for the district. He was also assistant high school principal in Ronan, and holds a bachelor’s degree from UM-Western in secondary education and a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Montana. 

• Lance Pearson is superintendent of the Victor School District and served as elementary principal at Morrison Elementary in Troy. He earned his bachelor’s in liberal studies from California State University – Fresno and a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Nevada.  

• Tom Stack is superintendent of the Clinton Elementary School District and was the former high school principal in Ronan. He earned a bachelor’s in wildlife biology and a master’s in educational leadership, both from the University of Montana.

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